Austin Reallocates Police Funding to Homeless Housing and Services

The city is using the redistributed money to purchase hotels for permanent housing and provide supportive services.

1 minute read

February 8, 2021, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Sixth Street, Austin

Juli Scalzi / Shutterstock

Austin has purchased the first of what the city council hopes will be many hotels to be used as permanent housing for people who were previously unhoused, reports Alissa Walker for Curbed. The $6.5 million in funding for the project comes as part of a $20 million package that was recently redistributed from Austin's police budget as part of an experiment in reallocating police funding to social services.

"In addition to funding housing, including a new shelter to protect families facing domestic violence, the reconfigured budget proposes a plan to replace police officers with social workers to respond to nonviolent 911 calls, meaning the people who are the first point of contact for unhoused residents will be armed with mental-health training and access to shelter beds instead of guns," writes Walker. Councilmember Greg Casar emphasized the link between homelessness and police funding, citing the ineffectiveness of criminalizing the unhoused instead of funding supportive programs. "We know that policing and jails doesn’t solve homelessness. Housing does," he said.

Opponents of the plan are fighting back with a ban on public camping likely headed to the next state ballot and threats of a statewide anti-camping ordinance from Texas Governor Greg Abbott. If passed, such legislation would make life even more difficult for people experiencing homelessness.

Monday, February 1, 2021 in Curbed

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Close-up of electric stove range with front burners red-hot.

California Cities Suspend Natural Gas Bans Following Court Ruling

A Ninth Circuit court ruling forced Berkeley to reverse its ban on natural gas in new buildings, prompting other cities to suspend their own efforts to promote all-electric buildings.

May 28, 2024 - East Bay Times

BART heavy rail train on elevated track pulling into Concord, CA station with cloudy sky and trees in background.

Bay Area Transit Projects Awarded $18 Million

The funding supports eight ‘near-term’ projects slated for completion within the next one to three years.

1 hour ago - Contra Costa Herald

Silver UTA On Demand transit van in Utah.

Utah On-Demand Transit Hits 1 Million Rides

The service connects outlying communities with fixed-route transit lines.

2 hours ago - Utah Transit Authority

Texas Flood

Texas Flood Plan Shows One in Six Residents Live With Flood Risk

One-fourth of the state’s land falls within 100-year or 500-year floodplains.

3 hours ago - The Texas Tribune

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.